Friday, February 15, 2019

Court document: Joplin woman did not report child porn discovery because she was afraid it would hurt daycare business, damage her reputation

A former Joplin day care owner charged with nine counts of child endangerment destroyed child pornography evidence and failed to report it to police because she was afraid it would damage her business, according to a probable cause statement filed in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The statement, which was filed in March 2018, but has only recently been made available to the public, says Betsy Coleman continued to allow her boyfriend Kent Hagan to live with her even after the discovery of child pornography on his phone.

Hagan pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges and will be sentenced March 1 in U. S. District Court in Kansas City.

Though it has been 11 months since Coleman's arrest, she has yet to have a preliminary hearing. The next hearing in her case is scheduled for February 25.

The probable cause spells out her alleged crimes:

On August 21, 2017, the Joplin Police Department received a tip from a Joplin resident reporting Kent G. Hagan possessed child pornography on his cellular telephone while living at 1400 W. 5th Street, Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.

The primary resident of the address is Betsy Jo Coleman and Hagan is Coleman's live-in boyfriend. Coleman's primary source of income is operating a non-licensed daycare out of her residence.

The Joplin citizen reported to police Coleman had discovered "creepy" images depicting the clothed buttocks of one or more the daycare children. Coleman also observed images that she described as child pornography on Hagan's cell phone.

As a result of finding those images, Coleman deleted the images from Hagan's cell phone and gave it back to him. Coleman reportedly kicked Hagan out of the residence and confided to the Joplin resident about what she had discovered. Coleman assured the Joplin resident she would not allow Hagan near the children and he would not be allowed to live with her.

The Joplin resident, believing Coleman was handling the incident appropriately, did not report it until observing Hagan living at Coleman's residence on August 19, 2017.

The Joplin resident, believing the minor children being cared for by Coleman were in danger of being abused, reported the incident to the police. Joplin investigators conducted an investigation and learned Hagan possessed child pornography on his cellular device, as well as other digital evidence seized from Hagan.

The investigation revealed Coleman did not report this incident due to her concern it would ruin her daycare business and reputation, knowingly creating a substantial risk to the life, body or health of children less than 17 years of age.

Per RSMo 210.115.1, Betsy Coleman is a mandated reporter of child abuse and failed to report the incident to the child abuse hotline.

Multiple interviews were conducted with several of the parents of the children Coleman cared for. To date, all of them stated Coleman failed to alert them to this incident involving Hagan and the existence of the "creepy" images involving their children.

The parents reported observing Hagan at Coleman's residence repeatedly during the relevant period.

The children being cared for by Betsy Coleman during the relevant period are identified as Jane Doe 1, three years old; Jane Doe 2, six years old; Jane Doe 3, eight years old; Jane Doe 4, three years old; John Doe 1, three years old; John Doe 2, one year old; John Doe 3, four years old; John Doe 4, three years old; and John Doe 5, one year old.

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